Have someone to spend Valentine’s Day with and no plans to speak of? Don’t fret: you can still put together a fantastic evening out or at home with little money or advanced preparation. Just pull out your iPad, grab a few apps and roll up your sleeves: we’ve got some work to do.
1. Jamie’s Recipes
It may be too late to get decent reservations, but depending on the gal or guy a home-cooked meal might get you further. Your iPad won’t help much if you’re utterly hopeless in the kitchen, but if you know your way around a few basics you’ll be fine. Jamie’s Recipes will help you cook up a meal that’s certain to impress your date. Love him or hate him, Jamie Oliver has some serious cooking skills – and unless you partake in the video instructions, you won’t need to spend much time with the fellow himself.
With the app, you’ll get 10 recipes for free, many of which would make a perfect dinner for a date. Each comes with a complete shopping list and gorgeous photos of every step. Not only that, many of the tricky bits have videos to walk you through. If nothing catches your eye, there are over a dozen paid recipe packs available, including a Date Night pack with dinner options, deserts and cocktails. There are apps out there with more selection, but when you’re working on a tight timeline having a few great options is far better than needing to browse and pick from a list of hundreds.
Free – App Store link
2. Winestein Pro
Once you’ve planned the perfect meal, you may want to consider adding a good bottle of wine. But if you don’t already know what goes best with pasta, beef or fish, you could end up spending more time in the liquor store than you can afford. Winestein Pro will make a difficult choice far easier. Simply enter the dish you have planned, right down to the ingredients. The app will calculate the best pairings and rank them for you from the closest match down. From there you can refine by color and price range.
If you’re interested in learning more about the sort of wine you’ve picked, Winestein will give you all the relevant information. From taste to serving temperature, it has all the details. The recommendations are general, nothing more than a grape and a region, but it should be more than enough to set you on the right track.
Free – App Store link
If all this sounds like you’re setting up far too many things that could go wrong, you might still be able to sneak in a reservation in at a local restaurant. Since many places don’t take Valentine’s reservations, save yourself the trouble of calling around and download OpenTable. It will use your location and time preference to scope out any restaurants that still have spaces available, and you can secure your reservation online (although if it’s very short notice you’ll be best off calling).
Restaurants are listed by distance, and can be filtered by price range, cuisine and neighborhood. You can also check out the reviews from other OpenTable diners to ensure you’ll be taking your date to only the very best.
Free – App Store Link
4. Valentine RADIO
It’s a bit cheesy, but if you want to be sure that the music you play for the evening stays romantic without putting hours into a custom playlist, Valentine RADIO can help. It has a curated list of 40 Internet radio stations that play nothing but love songs. They span a good range of genres, with soul, jazz, pop, trance and more. Take a quick listen before the big night, though, so you don’t end up putting on country when you’re looking for funk.
The app supports backgrounding and AirPlay, so you can stream the music to any compatible receiver in any room of the house. Just be prepared to be interrupted with a few ill-timed ads—this is free Internet radio, after all.
Free – App Store link
If the evening is going well and you’d like a lighthearted way to turn up the heat, Fingle is a lot of fun. It’s a terribly suggestive finger twisting game for two, complete with cheesy music and tons of innuendo. The two of you will each need to put a hand to work manipulating squares into boxes, moving them back and forth and around each other. It’s not at all subtle, but the sheer boldness is good for a laugh, and all the while you’ll find yourselves in close contact.
$0.99 – App Store link
So there you have it: dinner, drinks and entertainment. It’s the perfect start to a great evening, and you can probably take it from here. If you have more tips or suggestions for apps to help with a big date, share them in the comments. We could all use a little help, I’m sure.